Publication Details

Fourtounas, A. & Thomas, S. J. (2016). Cognitive factors predicting checking, procrastination and other maladaptive behaviours: prospective versus Inhibitory Intolerance of Uncertainty. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 9 30-35.


Intolerance of Uncertainty (IU) is a cognitive construct which is strongly linked to psychopathology, particularly anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. IU has also been proposed to be linked to maladaptive behaviours such as checking and procrastination in uncertain situations. Additionally, two subfactors of IU have recently been identified, Prospective IU (Desire for Predictability) and Inhibitory IU (Uncertainty Paralysis). These factors may differentially predict approach and avoidance behaviours respectively, however research is lacking. This study investigated associations between IU subfactors and self-reported maladaptive behaviours. University students (n=110; 74.3% female) completed self-report measures of behaviours including checking, procrastination, general avoidance and controlling behaviours. We hypothesised that Prospective IU would be associated with checking behaviours while Inhibitory IU would be associated with procrastination. Procrastination was predicted only by Inhibitory IU, however Checking was predicted equally by Inhibitory IU and Prospective IU. The results provide the first evidence of a differentiation between the two IU subfactors in predicting maladaptive behaviours. Uncertainty Paralysis may be an important cognitive factor reflecting tendencies to freeze during uncertainty, which predicts both checking and procrastination. Checking behaviours may be associated with additional unwillingness to leave outcomes to chance. This research provides new information about specific cognitive factors associated with checking and procrastination and other maladaptive behaviours, which could potentially be targeted in interventions.



Link to publisher version (DOI)